Injury attorneys get a bad rap. They are the bad guys right? All they do is help people get something for nothing right? People would be shocked if they knew how difficult it was to get even a decent settlement offer for an injury victim even when the law is in place to help guarantee that those victims are compensated. The goal of the law is to restore the victim, to compensate them, to give them a money substitute to put them back in the place that they would be in had there been no accident. Click here to learn more about the different kinds of available damages. When it comes down to it, only the injured victim knows what amount of money they would fairly accept as a trade for what they had to go through. For a small accident, like getting rear ended in a parking lot, maybe it would not take much money to compensate them. Obviously they need to get any damage to their car fixed properly. That would be the first thing.
In a low-impact crash like that, the property damage will not likely be more than a few thousand dollars. Then there is the possible injury. Maybe the person who was rear-ended suffers no noticeable injury at all. That’s possible. It’s also possible that they could suffer a sprain or strain in the neck or back quite easily if they experienced any whiplash at all. Soft tissue injuries to muscles, ligaments, and tendons can happen quite easily when a small person gets hit by a large car. The body is simply not used to being dislodged so suddenly. Doctors’ visits get costly very quickly. The first priority for an injured person is to seek treatment and get back to full health as quickly as possible. That is a natural inclination. That does not make someone greedy. A trip to one’s primary care physician, followed by some physical therapy and chiropractic can add up very quickly. If an injury victim’s medical bills exceed $3,000, that individual has a bodily injury claim against the liability carrier in addition to the property damage claim that has likely already been settled by that point. There are other special damages that must be added to those medical bills. They include lost wages and even wages that will be lost in the future due to loss of earning capacity. Once you have a total number for special damages, you move on to the final step.
The general damages portion is where most of the wiggle room exists. All the damages up until now are quite easily valued in a precise amount. There will be little dispute over them. General damages are all things that are specific to the victim. Only the victim understands the true value of these damages in their case. These are things that affected the victim personally, in ways that the injuries may or may not have affected other people with similar physical injuries. Pain and suffering is for the physical pain that the victim experienced in the accident and over the course of time that the victim was less than 100%. Emotional distress is for the stress and anxiety. Loss of enjoyment for activities that the victim missed out on, and loss of consortium for relationships that suffered. The general rule is that these general damages will go up proportionately to how bad the physical injury was. If you broke both legs and you required multiple major surgeries, you likely experienced more emotional pain and you likely missed out on more good things.
Once you cross the threshold of $3,000 in medical bills. You do have a claim, your general damages are usually determined as a multiple of your special damages. If your special damages were $5,000, and your injuries did not affect your life much at all, your multiple will be less than one. For example, you would likely not even get $10,000 total because you would get $5,000 for specials and then less than $5,000 for generals. In contrast, if you suffered severe brain damage and had medical bills of over $100,000, your generals may not even be fairly compensated by a multiple of four or five. In other words, $500,000 or $600,000 may not be enough.
Going with an experienced negotiator who can argue the value of your claim under the law can benefit you greatly. A good attorney can almost always get you substantially more than you could ever get for yourself. Even the simple involvement of an attorney raises the insurance company’s value of your claim from day one.
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This article is offered only for general information and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this article without first seeking the advice of an attorney.